Armed with a letter of introduction from Harvard University and a reservation at the hostel, I arrived in Bologna in late fall of 2008. I came to study regional cuisine and agriculture in the heart of Italy. I had the first three days to find an apartment – after that my project would begin.

I landed on Via degli Orti, a tree-lined street south of the city center. While in Bologna I pass my time in a small, smoke-filled apartment with three Italians (Veneto, Abruzzese, and Calabrese) and a Bavarian. My wanderlust takes me to Sicily, Liguria, Abruzzo, in search of novelties for my research and my palate.

This is the story of my adventures in Italy’s towns, vineyards, and kitchens. A glimpse of the country that isn’t found under the Tuscan sun, but in the bars under Bologna’s porticos and the farmlands of the surrounding hills.